Moated site and associated ponds


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1013512

Date first listed: 23-Nov-1992

Date of most recent amendment: 29-Oct-2012

Statutory Address: Moated site and associated ponds at Upton Cressett Hall, Upton Cressett, Bridgnorth, WV16 6UH


Ordnance survey map of Moated site and associated ponds
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Statutory Address: Moated site and associated ponds at Upton Cressett Hall, Upton Cressett, Bridgnorth, WV16 6UH

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Shropshire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Upton Cressett

National Grid Reference: SO6554592440


The earthwork and buried remains of a moated site and associated water features at Upton Cressett Hall. Although medieval in origin, they appear to have been remodelled to create an ornamental garden during the late C16 or early C17. Within the moated island are the buried archaeological remains of the earlier manor house and those demolished parts of the present mid-C15 house.

Reasons for Designation

The moated site and associated water features at Upton Cressett Hall, together with the buried archaeological remains of the earlier manor house and those demolished parts of the present mid-C15 house are scheduled for the following principal reasons: * Survival: a well-preserved group of archaeological remains which, despite some landscaping in the late C20, represent the growth and development of this site from a moated medieval manor house to the ornamental water gardens of a fashionable late-C16 residence; as such they exhibit considerable longevity as monument types; * Potential: buried archaeological evidence for the layout and types of structures that formerly occupied the moated island will survive beneath the ground surface, whilst the moat ditches and the ponds will retain artefactual and environmental information relating to the occupation of the site and their subsequent re-modelling; * Historic interest: the post-medieval re-modelling of the moated site and the ponds to create an ornamental garden reflects the status and wealth of the Cressett family and will provide a valuable insight into garden design at that time; * Group value: they have strong group value with Upton Cressett Hall, its gatehouse and the former Church of St Michael, all of which are listed at Grade I, as well as the scheduled medieval settlement to the south-east. Taken together, these all provide evidence for the development of Upton Cressett since at least the C12, if not earlier.


Moated sites consist of wide ditches, often or seasonally waterfilled, partly or completely enclosing one or more islands of dry ground on which stood domestic or religious buildings. In some cases the islands were used for horticulture. The majority of moated sites served as prestigious aristocratic and seigneurial residences with the provision of a moat intended as a status symbol rather than a practical military defence. The peak period during which moated sites were built was between about 1250 and 1350 and by far the greatest concentration lies in central and eastern parts of England.

Garden designs dating between the early C16 and mid-C18 are numerous and varied, although most contain a number of recognisable components. For the C16 and C17, characteristic features included symmetrical water features such as canals and ornamental moats, as well as terraces, raised walkways and parterres. Formal gardens were created throughout the period by the Royal court, the aristocracy and county gentry, as a routine accompaniment of the country seats of the landed elite. Formal gardens of all sizes were once therefore commonplace.

The settlement at Upton Cressett was known as Ultone in the Domesday Book; a name which comes from the Anglo-Saxon word 'Upton' meaning 'higher settlement'. In 1165, Upton formed part of the Barony of Fitz Alan, being held for some generations by the descendants of Alan de Upton. The Cressetts first appear as Lords of Upton towards the close of the C14, when the family succeeded to Upton and gave their name to the place. The present Upton Cressett Hall is a timber-framed building of the mid-C15 which was refashioned and encased in brick in the 1580s. The presence of the C12 Church of St Michael immediately to the north-east of the house and the medieval settlement attest to the fact that this house occupies the site of an earlier manor house. It is entirely probable that the original manor house at Upton Cressett was surrounded by a moat since this is a typical feature of many higher-status residences during the medieval period. However, based on their surviving form and character, the moat ditches and also the adjacent series of ponds to the north-west appear to have been modified, probably in the late C16 or early C17, as was the fashion at that time, to create an ornamental water garden around Upton Cressett Hall.


The moated site is orientated north-west to south-east and has maximum dimensions of approximately 70m north-west to south-east and 60m south-west to north-east. Where the moat ditch survives as a visible earthwork, around the northern half of the site, it is up to 15m wide and between 2m and 3m deep. The southern sections of the south-west and north-west ditches have been mostly infilled and partly built over, but they will survive as buried features. The south-east arm of the moat has also been infilled and landscaped; its exact position cannot therefore be determined and it is not included in the scheduling. There is an outer retaining bank 1m high and 3m wide running the full length of the north-west and part of the north-east arm before it turns outwards slightly towards lower-lying land to the east. This feature is roughly parallel to the north-west elevation of the house and may be part of the remodelling carried out during the late C16/early C17. It probably represents the remains of a raised walkway from which both the house and the C12 church could be viewed.

The area defined by the moat ditches has been artificially raised; its south-east corner and much of the north-east side are occupied by the Grade I listed Upton Cressett Hall. This building comprises the remains of a mid-C15 aisled open hall house and a late-C15 cross wing and was altered in the late C16 and again in subsequent centuries. An historic building survey and evidence within the fabric of the building indicate that the aisled hall has been truncated, probably in the 1580s when the house was refashioned, and that it originally extended south-eastwards and may also have included further ranges which have since been demolished.

Adjacent to the north-west side of the moated site is a series of broad depressions, partly embanked, representing ponds constructed along the course of the stream. A linear bank, some 120m in length, runs parallel with the north side of the stream, and there are further banks at right angles to this one and also to the south which together define the ponds. These features have been somewhat degraded and the retaining dam has been breached, but they survive as earthworks. The ponds lie side by side; the larger one to the north-east measures approximately 12m by 60m, while that to the south-west is roughly 20m by 35m. The ponds may have medieval origins and were subsequently modified to form part of a late-C16/early-C17 ornamental water garden enhancing the grounds of Upton Cressett Hall, as well as being used for keeping fish. The stream and moat are supplied with water by springs located to the west of the site.

Upton Cressett Hall which is listed at Grade I, the agricultural buildings overlying the southern end of the south-west moat arm, the surfaces of paths and driveways, boundary walls, and all fencing and gate posts are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is included.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 13688

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Moran, M, Vernacular Buildings of Shropshire, (2003), 504-506
Information from SMR and EH listing, SMR, Upton Cressett Hall, (1991)
MPP Single Class Description, Post-Medieval Formal Gardens, 1997,

End of official listing